Welcome to BioBag’s Community Heroes series! Each month, we will highlight community heroes that are making a difference in their communities and working to make their local environments cleaner and healthier.

This month, we are taking a look at the Heather Gardens Green Team! Co-President Virginia L. Anthony, along with team members Marsha Bengen and Janet Arce, sent us the following message about their organization.

The Heather Gardens Green Team in Aurora, Colorado thanks BioBag Americas for giving us the opportunity to be their Community Hero of the Month.

Heather Gardens is an Active Adult 55+ Community in Aurora, Colorado. The community covers 198 acres, with 2426 units of various sizes and styles and approximately 3800 resident owners. Amenities include a 9-hole executive golf course, tennis courts, clubhouse, restaurant, pools, classes and clubs, one of them being the Heather Gardens Green Team. The goal of the Heather Gardens Green Team is to help make Heather Gardens “Greener.”

In 2018 , the Green Team applied for a City of Aurora’s Neighborhood Beautification Grant. One of the issues and complaints at Heather Gardens was that not all residents were cleaning up after their dogs. This was despite dog waste containers being distributed throughout the property and plastic grocery bags available to residents for that purpose. The Green Team looked for solutions to both the mess and plastic bags going to the landfill!

While researching solutions, the Green Team learned that there was a dog waste composting facility in Longmont, Colorado called Envirowagg. Envirowagg is one of only two such facilities in the entire United States! At the facility, dog waste is composted into both compost and a potting soil mixture for non-edible plants.

What an innovative idea we thought. But ???!!! Would Heather Gardens residents, the HGA Board, and the City of Aurora Neighborhood Beautification Grant Committee like this unusual proposal? Yup! They sure did!

The grant funded the first 3 months of our program and allowed us to purchase: 7 containers for the collection of dog waste in compostable bags; signs for these containers to indicate they were for compostable dog waste bags only; Biobags for 30 dogs for the first three months; and Pet Scoop service – a local company that picks up and brings the dog waste to Envirowagg to be composted.

Once the initial 30 dog pilot program was up and running, we sent out a questionnaire for participants to complete. The overwhelming majority wanted the program to continue. The only issue residents had was the need for additional compostable dog waste bins. Heather Gardens is a large property with 2.5 miles of sidewalk making a loop around and through the community. The Green Team approached the Heather Gardens Foundation for funds to purchase enough additional bins with signage so that each regular mesh dog waste bin had a companion compostable dog waste bin. This gave a total of 26 compostable and 26 regular dog waste bins.

The program continues to grow with more and more residents registering for the program. The last Friday of each month, residents come to the HG Clubhouse and receive their free compostable Biobags for the next month. (During COVID -19, the Green Team has been delivering bags to residents buildings.) Currently we have 200 dogs in our program.

Each week, members of the Green Teen check the compostable bins for non-compostable bags and trash which, despite our prominent signage, happens. Envirowagg can handle some plastic, but we try to keep our bins as compostable as we can. Heather Gardens Roads and Grounds Department empties the bins twice a week and deposits the contents into our Pet Scoop containers in our Maintenance Yard. Heather Gardens residents and staff have observed we have less dog waste left undisposed of around our property. 

As far as we know Heather Gardens is the only HOA with a Compostable Dog Waste Collection Program (or PPP for short – Puppy Poop Program). On a recent visit by Pet Scoop to pick up our waste and transport it to Envirowagg, they estimated that Heather Gardens dogs contribute about 1000 pounds, or half a ton, of poop per month, which is turned into usable environmentally friendly products by Envirowagg.

We hope these endeavors will inspire others to do the same!

For more information on Pet Scoop, please contact them at petscoop.com. Envirowagg can be reached at envirowagg.com.

A flyer regarding this pilot program can be downloaded here. For more information on the Heather Gardens Green Team about this or our other programs, please contact Janet Arce at arcej1946@gmail.com or Ginny Anthony at vlanthony10@gmail.com.

Happy Composting!    
The Heather Gardens Green Team

If you would like to be featured in a future edition of Community Heroes, please email us at marketing@biobagusa.com.